Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Over 1 Million UK Students Will be Affected by Pensions Strikes

Over 1 Million UK Students Will be Affected by Pensions Strikes Over 1 Million UK Students Will be Affected by Pensions Strikes
Nellie Chapman | 23 February, 2018, 03:21

A total of 64 universities across the United Kingdom are taking part in the four-week strike.

Staff at 65 universities walked out on 22 January over plans to scrap the element of the University Superannuation Scheme that guarantees a certain level of pension income in retirement, a move that the UCU claims would leave the typical lecturer nearly £10,000 a year worse off in retirement, compared with the current terms.

"The march processed past the University Library to the Sidgwick site of the university before occupying Senate House Lawn, where campaigners led chants including "They say marketise, we say organise!" and "Students and workers, unite and fight!". Nevertheless, any disruption to students' academic studies is regrettable.

Following the rally, students then marched along King's Parade, throwing colour bombs into the crowd on their way to Sidgwick site.

Some CSP members may be directly involved in the action because they have a joint membership with the UCU. It is staggering that most universities have refused to engage with the union and a real insult to staff and to students.

"Despite the fact that over a million students are going to be affected, university employers have been unwilling to reconsider their position and look at reasonable alternatives which would give staff security in retirement. Are they businesses or are they educational institutions?" Toope states that the University "deeply regrets" the forthcoming strike action, and understands the 'real concern of academics who feel the pension they expected may now be changed by circumstances outside their control'. It has been described as the worst industrial action at universities in modern times.

More than 14,000 students at the university could be affected. However, many UCU members supported the idea. Current strike action is the effect of a breakdown in negotiations between the University and UCU.

The student-led protest, which began at 12pm outside Senate House, occupied the majority of the square outside Great St Mary's, forcing pedestrians to walk past them in single file. Those organising the teach-outs stressed their wish for the teach-out programme collectively with students, and welcomed teaching suggestions on topics including Prevent, and a panel on radical organising for Labour across class and racial lines. Students are now taking part in a "sit-in" on the Senate House lawns. Stella Swain urged students still attending lectures to "think about why you're not supporting your lecturers", as the "marketisation of education" also affects students' futures.

Moreover, Universities UK has asked for further talks with UCU on the long-term plans for USS. University staff will still have a valuable pension scheme, with employer contributions of 18 per cent of salary, double the private sector average. The value of defined contribution schemes depends on returns from underlying investments rather than offering a guaranteed level of income upon retirement.